Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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PSV operators looking to recover fines



PUBLIC SERVICE VEHICLE (PSV) operators are planning to sue Government for $15 million.

This after one of their own was given an absolute discharge by Magistrate Graveney Bannister last Friday after appearing in the Bridgetown Traffic Court.

According to a source in the discussions, following a meeting held with the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) over the weekend, operators were now looking to recover all the monies they paid out in fines over the last five years, which they roughly estimated at more than $15 million.

“This is based on about five to six years because some of the operators have paid $500 to $1 000 in [forthwith] fines to avoid jail time. Some of them were imprisoned because they could not come up with the money. Therefore, a lot of them were imprisoned wrongfully, and to my understanding, compensation for erroneous imprisonment equates to about $1500 per day,” the PSV owner told the MIDWEEK NATION yesterday.

He added operators were trying to engage the services of Queen’s Counsel Michael Lashley, the former Minister of Transport and Works, to represent them. Lashley was counsel for the PSV worker who was discharged last Friday.

“I have said on numerous occasions none of us should go into a courtroom unrepresented. If we are given forthwith fines, we should always say ‘I appeal’ and file an appeal. But some of us don’t know and we [end up] paying these exorbitant fines,” the source said.

When contacted, APTO president Morris Lee confirmed meeting with PSV operators on the matter, and said they were finalising the way forward.

“A precedent has been set for inappropriate dress. So the repercussion of this is that PSV workers will certainly feel aggrieved,” he said, adding that discussions were “at a very sensitive stage”.

Lee said in addition to the possibility of legal action, drivers and conductors now had a “golden opportunity” to show the public they could function with a “legal big stick” hanging over their heads.

“I want to inform all PSV workers to continue to dress in the appropriate uniform such as a cotton shirt, a long pants and enclosed shoes. I want the operators to demonstrate to the Government, the police and the public that they do not have to have legislation hanging over their head in order to dress properly.

“I also want to encourage them to make sure that they move all unsavoury music from those vehicles. This is a chance to show the public that [we] can provide a service while properly attired, without law hanging over [our] heads,” he said.

Machine not working

On Friday, driver Andre Marlon Scott, of Thorpes, St James, pleaded guilty that last July 18 he was inappropriately dressed, believing he was not wearing the right uniform, and that he was wrong not to wear the required PSV badge, even though he had not received one since the Government’s printing machine was not working.

When Scott, who is in his 40s, returned to court for sentencing, he retained Lashley who challenged the legality of the charges based on Section 43(i)(f) of the Road Traffic Act, which stated that all drivers “shall be suitably attired and wear boots, shoes or sandals, and such other apparels as the Licensing Authority approves”.

Regarding the badge, the man said he had paid for the licence but had been unable to get the document, after the cashier at the Barbados Licensing Authority in the Pine had written onto the receipt that the printer was not working at the time.

After Lashley’s submissions, Magistrate Bannister agreed there was a loophole in the law. He said officers did not check back to ascertain if the printer was working between the date printed on the receipt and the day Scott was charged.

Scott was allowed to walk free. However, he was fined $400, to be paid by February 28, or 40 days in jail, for driving the ZR with the door ajar on February 13 last year.


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